Exhausting Habitability

Supported by decades of global research, human-caused climate change is a well established scientific fact.  Caused mainly by burning fossil fuels and deforestation it is exhausting the biosphere’s habitability.  Unless we significantly change many of our behaviors future generations will suffer.

One of the most significant drivers of climate change is our ever-growing numbers.  The biosphere’s sustainable carrying capacity may not be much greater than 2 to 3 billion people.  It could be considerably less if the expected lifestyles (consumption patterns) are anywhere close to that of the United States.  Our lifestyles require us to burn fossil fuels at unsustainable rates.  If we don’t shift to cleaner sources of energy an energy crisis as well as a global environmental crisis will eventually develop and the carrying capacity will most certainly decline even further.  The post-fossil fuel world could be much grimmer than most people imagine if we don’t learn to live within the biosphere’s capacity.

Full Planet, Empty Plates  Lester R. Brown   “If world population growth does not slow dramatically, the number of people trapped in hydrological poverty and hunger will almost certainly grow, threatening food security, economic progress, and political stability. The only humane option is to move quickly to replacement-level fertility of two children per couple and to stabilize world population as soon as possible.”

Fossil fuels are currently the foundation of our modern society.  We will shift to more sustainable fuels eventually.  How quickly and efficiently we adopt alternatives and move to the post carbon era will be a measure of humanity’s capacity for long term planning - to see beyond our immediate needs.

Post Carbon Institute        Modern industrial civilization was built on fossil fuel energy, but climate change, overpopulation and resource scarcity require that we find other ways to power our societies — and fast. The energy problems the world faces are too big, too complex, and coming too fast for us to responsibly hope that new technologies or new discoveries will save the day. Unfortunately, the decline of our most important energy source—petroleum—is already underway, and the resulting supply and price volatility will make investment in alternative infrastructure increasingly more difficult.   There are many things we must do to transition away from oil, coal and natural gas, but the most important are these: Reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. Use what fossil fuels we have more efficiently. Develop renewable energy sources and technologies. Decentralize energy production so that communities can power themselves from local energy sources.